Canadian Natural Resources Ltd an investor darling for analysts even amid oil price slump

Heavy oil producer Canadian Natural says it lost money in the second quarter because it had to set aside money to pay for the NDP's provincial tax hike

CALGARY C Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is an investor darling, with analysts from energy-focused investment firms such as FirstEnergy Capital Corp. and stock pickers from global firms like Barron\’s frequently naming its stock among their favourites in the energy sector.

Even with oil prices plummeting, 19 of 25 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg say the company is a \”buy\” and when CNRL reports its fourth-quarter results Thursday, the analyst crush is not likely to change.

\”It\’s an identity for being able to control their costs and manage the business in the downturn,\” Veritas Investment Research vice-president Sam La Bell said within an interview, explaining the appeal of CNRL.

\”One of the reasons that [CNRL] does better is it has this big Horizon [oil sands expansion] project setting up in two to three years, so that they have this sunk cost that\’s already been spent and they\’ve this producing asset that\’s going to start up and it\’s going to bring with it a lot of cash flow,\” Mr. La Bell said.

He added that he is somewhat \”negative around the valuations\” because CNRL\’s stock price hasn\’t corrected following the collapse in oil prices towards the same extent since it\’s peers.

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